Pheoby and the women of Eatonville are sitting on their porches, gossiping. When they start to criticize the newly returned Janie, Pheoby defends her.
Pheoby goes over to Janie’s house to welcome her back and bring her some dinner.
Pheoby wants to know why Janie has returned without Tea Cake, and Janie launches into her life story, to which Pheoby listens eagerly.
Pheoby comes up as a character in Janie’s life story. Janie, distraught by Joe’s rapidly deteriorating health and refusal to see her, comes to Pheoby for advice. This is after Janie has insulted Joe’s manhood. Pheoby tells her she cannot do anything to help Joe. Everyone knows that what she said about Joe’s manhood is untrue, according to Pheoby.
After Joe’s death, Pheoby acts as Janie’s confidante. Janie is happy to be free of Joe’s oppressive rule over her and tells Pheoby so. Pheoby warns Janie not to let that news spread.
Months later, while Janie is recklessly dating Tea Cake, Pheoby is approached by her husband, Sam. Sam is concerned about Janie’s improper behavior—running around with Tea Cake while her husband hasn’t even been in the grave a year. Pheoby agrees to speak with Janie.
Pheoby talks to Janie. Janie confides that she is happy with Tea Cake and plans to sell her store, marry Tea Cake, and leave Eatonville. This surprises Pheoby, who hopes that Janie will enter into a more sensible and stable marriage with an undertaker from Sanford. But, Pheoby recognizes that Janie is her own woman and can do what she likes.
Janie’s life story ends. Pheoby has been deeply impacted by Janie’s tale, feeling more respect for Janie but also feeling the need to live her own life more fully and show her husband, Sam, more love while she has the chance.